December 2, 2021

Family Donations: Discovering More Elizebeth Smith Friedman Photos

William and Elizebeth Smith Friedman were amongst the world’s foremost codebreakers in the 20th century, inventing the science of cryptography. In 1971, Elizebeth accompanied the moving of their library, photos, and private papers to the George C. Marshall Foundation, where their collections remain amongst the most popular in the Foundation archives.

In November, Elizebeth Smith Friedman’s great-nephew, Steve, and his wife, Amy, came to visit. They brought with them many family photos and a lot of information. The discovery was wonderful! We have also begun digitization of additional Friedman family photos from William and Elizebeth’s son, John Ramsay Friedman. So this blog is a photo fest of some previously unseen photos. Enjoy!

The Smith sisters — l to r: Edna, Ethel, Elizebeth and Lena, about 1892.

There were photos of William and Elizebeth.

Elizebeth and William in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C., in 1929. William is not wearing his trademark bow tie.

Elizebeth and William in the garden of their Capitol Hill home, May 1956.

There were some of William or Elizebeth with their children, Barbara and John Ramsay.

William and John Ramsay in their yard at their Military Road home in June 1927. William is sitting on John Ramsay’s push toy.

Barbara, John Ramsay in a pedal car, and Elizebeth in November 1927.

Barbara, Elizebeth, and John Ramsay on Easter 1930.

Some photos of the children alone:

John Ramsay standing in a chair at 2 years old (and holding on to his sister’s hand for safety), in 1928.

Barbara on her tricycle about 1929.

John Ramsay on his tricycle, with Barbara on roller skates in 1931. The Friedmans had beautiful flower gardens.

John Ramsay with his Christmas presents in 1940. No surprise that he enlisted in the Air Force several years later!

Barbara on Christmas Day 1940 as well.

Here’s one of the whole family, at Barbara’s graduation from Radcliffe in 1946:

Other photos are of Elizebeth or William alone.

This is First Lt. William in France in World War I.

In contrast, here’s William at Berchtesgaden, Germany in 1945.

William, looking a bit peeved that his reading of the Washington Post has been interrupted.

Elizebeth in October 1940. I love how relaxed she looks in this photo.

Elizebeth in the garden of their Capitol Hill home about 1968. The talisman climbing roses William planted are in the back ground (but not blooming).

And finally, this photo, which may well be the ONLY one of Elizebeth in pants, and dungarees, yet!


I hope you have enjoyed these photos. There are many more in their collections! See more photos here.

Before becoming director of library and archives at the George C. Marshall Foundation, Melissa was an academic librarian specializing in history. She and her husband, John, have three grown children, and live in Rockbridge County with three large rescue dogs. Melissa is known as the happiest librarian in the world! Keep up with her @MelissasLibrary.